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Best used estate cars for less than £20,000 (and the one to avoid)

If you need space and practicality but don't want an SUV, the traditional estate car is hard to beat. Here we reveal the best and worst used buys for less than £20,000...


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Oliver Young

Best used estate cars for less than £20,000 (and the ones to avoid)

Don't dismiss the good old-fashioned estate car. You might have been led astray by the promise of an adventurous SUV lifestyle, but why spend a fortune running a high-riding behemoth when you could have a posh estate that’s much more fun to drive?

Most of the examples on this list are only a few years old at most and will still feel pretty much like new. So go ahead and peruse our list of the top 10 used estate cars – plus the one you should avoid.

10

BMW 3 Series Touring

The latest BMW 3 Series Touring is on sale now, but the previous-generation model is still a great all-rounder for those looking for an estate car with a premium badge. It's not the most commodious choice, but the space it does have is reasonably flexible. Plus, it's one of the few estates with a back window you can open separately from the rest of the tailgate when you just want to throw in a bag. 

We found: 2017 BMW 3 Series Touring 318i Sport, 28,023 miles, £16,950

Pros

  • Precise handling
  • Strong and efficient engines
  • High quality interior

Cons

  • Four-cylinder diesels can sound gruff
  • Some rivals offer more boot space
  • Offset pedals in the manual versions
9

Audi A6 Avant

Despite its age, the previous-generation Audi A6 Avant actually has a better infotainment system than the current car, with a rotary controller rather than touchscreens. That means you're not only saving money by going used but also making your life easier. Look for an SE or SE Executive for plenty of kit and a more supple ride than S line versions with bigger wheels. The 2.0 TDI Ultra diesel is a very efficient option. 

We found: 2018 Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI Ultra SE Executive S tronic, 23,000 miles, £19,491 

 

Pros

  • High-quality interior
  • Strong engines
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • Some rivals are more practical
  • Not much fun to drive
8

Volvo V90

Volvo has often been seen as synonymous with boxy estate cars, but the V90 is a really rather stylish thing. It also has one of the most handsome interiors fitted to car at this price point, plus many versions come packed with all the latest active safety technology. The 2.0-litre D4 and D5 diesels make the most sense.

We found: 2017 Volvo V90 D4 Momentum, 62,139 miles, £18,990

Pros

  • Spacious rear room
  • Generous standard kit
  • High-quality interior

Cons

  • Dull handling on standard suspension
  • Distracting infotainment system
  • Lethargic gearbox
7

Volkswagen Golf Estate

How do you improve on a car that's often described as all the vehicle you'll ever need? Make it an estate. The Mk7 Volkswagen Golf is a great all-rounder, but if you need a bit more fridge-carrying capability, you’ll need the estate version. It’s a very pleasant car to drive and a very relaxing motorway cruiser.

We found: 2020 Volkswagen Golf Estate 1.5 TSI EVO Match, 8973 miles, £17,490

Pros

  • Huge boot
  • Great interior design
  • Wide range of engines

Cons

  • Expensive to buy
  • Some rivals are bigger still
  • Limited petrol choice
6

Audi A4 Avant

You’d think that the battle between the BMW 3 Series Touring and the Audi A4 Avant would be a lot closer, but the A4 Avant is a far better estate car because of its longer load area and more uniform boot shape. Match that with a better driving position and a classier interior and you have a very fine estate car indeed.

We found: 2018 Audi A4 Avant 1.4 FSI S Line, 21,778 miles, £19,980

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Pros

  • Refined engines
  • Comfortable ride
  • Superbly made interior

Cons

  • Not as fun to drive as the BMW 3 Series
  • More practical estates are available
  • You can’t add many options
5

Skoda Superb Estate

If you disregard your desire for a premium badge for one moment and consider the square-footage of car you could get instead, you’ll be looking at the Skoda Superb Estate. It does almost everything the equivalent Mercedes E-Class Estate and BMW 5 Series Touring manages but for a fraction of the price. In short, it's huge inside. 

We found: 2020 Skoda Superb Estate 1.5 TSI SE, 2879 miles, £18,990

 

Pros

  • Class-leading space
  • High-quality interior
  • Excellent value used

Cons

  • Diesels sound a bit gruff
  • Some rivals are more fun to drive
  • 2.0-litre petrols are quick, but rather thirsty
4

Skoda Octavia Estate

You might be wondering why the smaller Octavia is higher up this list than its bigger stablemate, the Skoda Superb. Well, even though it's smaller, it still has a massive boot and lots of rear leg room, so it’s not as if you’ll be missing out on much practicality. The smaller exterior dimensions also mean it’s far easier to park, plus you can find a slightly newer example for less money. 

We found: 2020 Skoda Octavia Estate 2.0 TDI SE L auto, 7815 miles, £19,000

 

Pros

  • Huge load space
  • Well equipped
  • Some great-value options

Cons

  • So-so refinement
  • Choppy low-speed ride
  • Some versions are expensive
3

Seat Leon ST

The terrific Seat Leon ST proves that you can still have fun while driving a practical car. The Leon shares plenty of mechanical and technology bits and pieces with the Golf and Octavia, but it feels very different because it has quicker steering and firmer suspension to better resist body roll. That means you have to be a bit careful about the size of wheels (preferably no bigger than 17in), otherwise you might find the ride to be a bit hard. 

We found: 2020 Seat Leon ST 1.5 TSI Evo FR, 2500 miles, £18,995

 

Pros

  • Outstanding value
  • Easy to use infotainment system
  • Sporty drive

Cons

  • Firm ride
  • Diesels a bit noisy
  • Bland interior
2

BMW 5 Series Touring

The previous-generation BMW 5 Series Touring still feels wonderfully modern. Its iDrive infotainment system is one of the best around and its efficient diesel engines hold up against newer alternatives. It's good to drive, refined and best sampled with its smooth-shifting automatic gearbox. Look for a car fitted with adaptive dampers if you want an M Sport model as it will allow you to put the suspension in Comfort mode over rough roads. 

We found: 2016 BMW 5 Series Touring 520d M Sport auto, 30,344 miles, £17,689

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • High-quality interior
  • Tidy handling

Cons

  • Not the roomiest
  • Some reliability problems
  • Rear suspension expensive to repair
1

Volkswagen Passat Estate

The Volkswagen Passat looks smart, drives nicely, is delightfully efficient and comes with all the equipment you’d expect of a premium vehicle. It's highly practical, too, with no loss of refinement over the regular version. There's an impressive amount of space for all passengers, a boot big enough for even the plumpest of sofas and it's decently priced. Go for a sensible 2.0-litre diesel engine for the best combination of performance and fuel economy. 

We found: 2019 Volkswagen Passat Estate 2.0 TDI EVO SE Nav, 13,700 miles, £19,990 

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Pros

  • Good range of engines
  • Spacious interior and boot
  • Classy interior

Cons

  • Slightly unsettled ride
  • Base S trim misses out on some kit

The used Estate to avoid...

Subaru Levorg

If reliability is your utmost concern in a car, there's something to be said for buying a Subaru Levorg. Trouble is, there aren't that many examples available for sale used, the interior isn’t befitting of a car that cost £30,000 when new and it offers only a thir... Read our review